For the first time in two months, the fight capital of the world is nearly ready to host combat sports again.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission has scheduled its first meeting since it suspended combat sports indefinitely on March 14 because of the coronavirus pandemic. The meeting will be Wednesday at 9 a.m. PT. NSAC commission members will attend the meeting via phone, rather than the traditional in-person meeting in Las Vegas.
The Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory, a World Anti-Doping Agency-certified lab in Salt Lake City, has been working with NSAC officials on COVID-19 testing procedures in anticipation of the return of live events.
The UFC has already filed requests to host live events at its Apex facility in Las Vegas, on the dates of May 30 and June 6. Those events are expected to be UFC Fight Night, headlined by a welterweight fight between Tyron Woodley and Gilbert Burns, and UFC 250, featuring two-weight champion Amanda Nunes against Felicia Spencer.
Top Rank Boxing has also requested to host live events on June 9 and June 11 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
All requests hinge on NSAC's approval of new COVID-19 protocols, which include the stipulation of no live audiences. Nevada governor Steve Sisolak made the decision to close the state, including all casinos, in mid-March. The state started its multiphased reopening process on May 9.
The UFC, based in Las Vegas, has continued to hold events as its home state has been closed. The promotion held three live events in Jacksonville, Florida, on May 9, May 13 and May 16, with the support of the Florida government. One athlete scheduled to compete, Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza, and two of his cornermen tested positive for COVID-19 and were removed from the event.
UFC president Dana White has raved about the promotion's handling of the three events and pointed to it as proof that live sports can return with proper precautionary measures.